How to create a vector texture set

Create a free vector texture setThe web is full of vector textures, some free, some not, which are brilliant for adding an aged or distressed appearance to your work without scaling issues. Today I have written this tutorial to show you how to create a vector texture set of your own, so that you can spend more time on your designs and less time trawling the internet for resources.

Vector texture preview

Now, it wouldn’t be fair of me to tease you with the creative process and not share the results, so feel free to download the vector texture set that I created and use the graphics in your projects. P.S. One handy tip that I picked up as a result of making this vector set is that you may want to wear gloves. I didn’t. My fingernails are still a bit stained.


Vector texture tools

The first thing you will need is a few sheets of white paper/card and some black paint/ink. I chose ink as I already have a bottle that I use for writing. You’ll also need something to distribute the ink onto the card with, this can be anything you want to use or have lying around – paint brushes, a toothbrush, a fountain pen.

Creative process

Vector texture process

Now for the fun part. Splatter your card with black ink, the more you vary your splatter sizes and patterns the larger the range of textures you will create. Wait for the card to dry fully and then scan the sheets into your computer. A resolution of 300dpi should be high enough for what we are trying to achieve.

Vector texture process photoshop

Open the scanned images in Photoshop and create a new Levels adjustment layer. Edit the levels to make the blacks more prominent before saving the image as a PSD file and opening it in Illustrator. Alternatively, you can adjust the levels by selecting Adjustments then Levels from the Image menu (CTRL+L), but I prefer to use a non-destructive mask just in case I want to go back and tweak things later.

Vector texture process illustrator

Once open in Illustrator, select the image and choose the Image Trace option from the Window menu (I am using CS6 but advice on tracing artwork in CS5 or earlier is available). Press the arrow button next to the Advanced heading to reveal more options and adjust the settings until you are happy with the results.

Expand trace illustrator

Once satisfied click on the Expand button in the Control Panel near the top of the screen.

Vector texture process

Double-click on the resultant graphic and delete out the white space. This process can be made a little easier if, once your white area is highlighted, using the Select menu you choose Same then Fill Color from the options before deleting.

Ignore white option illustrator

It important that the ‘Ignore White’ option is left unchecked during the tracing process otherwise you won’t achieve the desired results when trying to apply the vector texture to your artwork. ‘Why not?’ you ask. Well, when you tick the Ignore White option the white area is set to have a transparent stroke and fill, the shape is still physically there and will be taken into account when using the Pathfinder options.

Vector texture preview

Repeat this process for all of your textures until you’ve built up a fantastic set of resources. All that’s left for you to do is apply them to your artwork and give your pieces that grungy edge. Don’t forget to download your free vector texture set if you haven’t already done so.


Written by Liz Canning


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  1. Thanks for sharing your process. I’m going to make some of these.

    I shared your freebies post on our Facebook as well as

    Keep up the great work 🙂

    1. Liz Canning says:

      Thanks John, I’m glad it was useful!

  2. Kuldeep says:

    Awesome share.
    Thanks for sharing this cool tutorial 🙂

    1. No problem, glad you enjoyed it!

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